You follow all the rules, you test all the scenarios, you make your version two site 100% search engine friendly. Then you launch the site and bam, your search referrals drop 60%. How could this of happened?
That is the current discussion in a Cre8asite Forums thread. The honest answer is that it does happen. Even if you follow all the recommendations in my Version 2: Relaunching a Site: SEO Considerations, including the incredible feedback in the comments, you are very likely to see a drop in traffic.
Why? Because you are potentially changing thousands of URLs and the hundreds of signals that go along with those URLs. Even the fastest computer needs time to compute this data, trust it and then push those signals through to the new URLs.
Here is an interesting question I was asked recently. I had a friendly competitor come to me the other day and ask me a question. They launched a site, they changed all the URLs but did not set up either 301s yet. They did set up new URLs, but the thing is, the new URLs and old URLs both worked. Yes, a duplicate content issue. The site was just launched and he asked what can he do now.
I suggested the following and I would love your feedback: (1) Get working on 301ing the new URLs to the old URLs (the old URLs were more search engine friendly because it was a static site). (2) Set up a database parameter to control which page gets which URL (more manual work, but for this case, it made more sense, since keeping the old URLs made more sense in this case). (3) Nofollowing the new URLs or excluding them in the robots.txt file until they can implement number 1 and 2. Which hopefully would be within a week or so.
I suspect you need more information to judge for yourself, but that is all I can provide.
In the case at the top of this article, they tested every scenario and set up all the 301s and mod_rewrites from the start. Even though, they still saw an initial drop in traffic. I am confident that traffic will get better sooner than later - if the content is worthy of it. But in the case I mentioned below, I found it interesting, in that the site was launched, there was a duplicate content issue and a potential issue of losing the current rankings. But in both cases, they issues should only be temporary.
Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.